Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Literature Unit "Snow Treasure"

One of my favorite ways to teach is through themed Literature units.  It just makes everything seem so alive and real to study and learn about what your literary characters are experiencing.  Most books can bing in History, Geography, Science, and some Math without the kids even realizing how much they are learning.  When I taught in the classroom, I would do a unit every year on "Where the Red Fern Grows"...such a great book for 10-12 year old boys (but if you intend to do this book, be aware of the language).  :)

So, this year I decided to have my two older boys participate in a Literature Club.  It is just one of those things on my educational "bucket list" that I want all of my kids to experience at some point.  So this year Nathan and Brennan are in a Literature club with ten other boys and so far it has been fantastic!  Each mom takes a turn hosting a monthly club and December was my turn to host.  We chose the book Snow Treasure.  I thought I would post here about all of the things that we did as a resource for anyone who might want to teach a unit on Snow Treasure.

The most helpful thing was that my wonderful husband took the day of the club off work to help me prepare during the morning, be available to run any last minute errands (or let me run the errands without kids!), and manage the little ones during the club.  Hooray for involved husbands and dads!!

Here is what we did:

First of all, we read the book:)  I knew that we would use The Socratic Method and that I wanted to teach the kids about setting, genre, personification, and cliffhanger.  So, I taught my own kids about personification and then had them listen for personification in the story as we read it aloud.  (We do "read aloud" with all six kids most school days.)  Amazing how much having something to listen for in the story helps my tactile learners sit still and listen:)  As we found good examples in the story, I jotted them down to use in the Lit club.  Then at one point, I had so many good examples that I would never use them all in the club but my kids kept insisting that I write them down...haha.

Before the actual day of the club, I gathered together shoe boxes and spray painted them gold to look like bricks of gold bullion.  Then, I had on hand lots of art supplies (construction paper, cotton balls, glue, scissors, clay, foam cut-outs, and little plastic soldiers, etc.) so that they could open their "bricks" and create a diorama inside.  Here is the link that I printed and gave to each boy to explain the steps in making a diorama and keep in their Literature notebooks.
How to make a shoebox diorama.

I found a page about the author that I also printed and we discussed in the club.  Each boy put a copy of this in his notebook as well.  It was really hard to find a good biography and picture of  Marie McSwigan but I found something that would work.
Author page.

Each boy received a world map with Norway colored and a map of Norway to also place in their notebooks.  Here are those links. 
World map with Norway colored. Map of Norway.

My boys and I decided to have a meal for the club much like the one that the children would have eaten at the farm after delivering the gold bricks.  So, we had our triple crockpots going  with meatballs in one, potatoes in another, and cabbage in the last.  We intended to have a variation of "iced cookies" for the boys as well but I actually had my daughter and an older sister of one of the Lit club boys preparing them during the club...haha.  But, with their help, the cookies were ready by the meal at the end of the club.

Being the planner and schedule person that I am, I had the three hour club scheduled out by time for each event.  This was really helpful as I was teaching to make sure that I was leaving enough time for all of the fun things that were planned.

Snow Treasure Book Club Schedule

Ice breaker game (15 min) 1:00

Intro Activity - (20 min) 1:15 "Make “wanted” posters"

Author – hand out sheets (10 min) 1:25 "Hand out author sheets and Norway fact sheet"

Story Chart/history (20 min) 1:45 "History of Norway, WWII, invasion timing, map"

Literary Terms (30 min) 2:15 "Setting, Personification, Genre, Cliffhanger"

Activity (45 min) 3:00  "Make a diarama"

Meal (30 min) 3:30

Game (20 min) 3:50  "Jeopardy remix"

Host gifts (10 min) 4:00

Things ended up a little different than I had planned...but there was a plan to fall back on!
After the teaching time, we went into the backyard to make dioramas and then had a Norwegian dinner.
We ended the club with a rousing game of "Snow Treasure Jeopardy".  I used a posterboard and post-it notes to create the game with two post-it notes for each question (one for the question and one to cover them up until needed).

My little ones were around and loved all of the action, but Peter was there to put them down for naps, etc. when the time came:)

I'd love to hear any ideas that you have for teaching Literature...Snow Treasure...or any book!

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